Google Reduces Visibility of ‘FAQ’ & ‘HowTo’ Rich Results
We’ve just got our heads around rich results and, you guessed it, they’re changing again.
Google has announced that they will be rolling out some core changes to show fewer rich results types in their search results. In particular, these changes will impact the visibility of FAQ rich results and limit HowTo results to Desktop only.
This update will be rolling in mid August 2023 and impacting the SERP globally. So, to find out more about the changes to rich results, read on.
First, let’s start with the FAQ rich results.
Changes to FAQ rich results
The change being rolled out for FAQ markup means that, for any pages using FAQPage structured data, rich results will now only be shown regularly for “well-known, authoritative government and health websites” across both the Desktop and Mobile results pages.
Google has said that sites will be automatically considered for these rich snippets depending on eligibility. In simple terms, if your site isn’t deemed to be authoritative or widely-known to users by Google, the chances of it showing rich results are getting slimmer.
There have been some unconfirmed reports over the last few months of less FAQ snippets being served in the SERP, so this move by Google makes this change official.
Should we remove FAQ structured data markup from websites?
Google has said that we do not need to proactively remove any existing FAQ schema markup from websites where this is implemented, as “Structured data that’s not being used does not cause problems for Search”.
However, moving forward, websites that don’t fall into the defined categories for this rich result will no longer see any visible benefits from this markup type in Google’s search results pages.
Now let’s take a look at the changes to HowTo markup.
Changes to HowTo markup
Alongside the changes rolling out to how FAQ schema markup is used in Google’s search results, they have also announced a further change that reduces the visibility of pages using HowTo structured data markup.
HowTo rich results will now only be shown for desktop users, and no longer served for users across mobile devices. However, as Google indexes mobile-first, the appropriate markup needs to be present across both versions of the site to be eligible for this rich result on Desktop search.
Why do these schema markup changes matter for SEO?
For any sites currently utilising these types of schema markup, if your site is affected, we may see a decline in clicks from Google Search as a result of these rich results no longer serving as often.
As a result, Google has also said that this may be noticeable across reports within Google Search Console, in terms of fewer clicks and impressions showing up within the Search Appearance reports where these features may have been seeing clicks and impressions for your website.
What does this mean for the future of rich results & structured data?
Google has said that the reasons behind reducing the prominence of these two rich result types is to provide “a cleaner and more consistent search experience.”
In line with this, we expect that this is signalling a move towards more answers being provided in the SERP by Google’s Search Generative Experience, which is currently still in beta testing in the US.
Google has recently been testing new features as part of the SGE beta, including more images, video results, and links directly within the SGE output. So, this is likely to be where we will see more SERP enhancements in the future.
Structured data markup is still an incredibly important way of helping search engines to understand what entities exist on your site and what the content on your website is about, even if there are fewer rich results appearing off the back of adding this markup. This is also going to continue becoming more important as we move towards Search Generative Experience.
Need help with your SEO?
In the face of all the recent changes from Google — and in lieu of Google’s Search Generative Experience — you may well be feeling a bit overwhelmed when it comes to your SEO. Luckily for you, our team of experts can assist you with everything from the optimisation of on-page content to site migrations and resolving technical SEO issues.